Energous: Wirelessly charging electrical devices over-the-air is safe and not wasteful [Q&A]

wattup

Three weeks ago, Energous announced a partnership with appliance manufacturer Haier Wireless, to add its WattUp wire-free charging transmitters to a wide range of home appliances. This will allow phones, tablets and other devices to charge over-the-air, just by being in range of an equipped appliance, such as a washer, microwave or fridge.

I spoke to Gordon Bell, Director of Marketing for Energous, to find out more about WattUp and the company's future plans.

How does WattUp work?

WattUp delivers energy utilizing the unlicensed ISM band, delivering energy locally to a specific device that is enabled and registered to be charged.

Is it safe?

Much like your cell phone is considered to be safe, we believe the WattUp technology is safe. We will be doing the exact same testing that is done on cell phones for safety and interference. As it relates to safety there are three underlying facts of interest.

1. The frequency we are using, in the 5GHz band is much less penetrative than a cell signal.

2. The power density per antenna compared to your cell phone is much less as well.

3. Our device that is on your phone/wearable is a receiver of power, not a transmitter.

Isn't it wasteful, charging devices in range continually?

WattUp transmitters sense devices via Bluetooth and only send power when needed, and only to those devices. WattUp is software controlled, giving users the ability to determine which devices receive power. Users can prioritize certain devices over others or charge them simultaneously. If there are no recognizable devices within range, the WattUp transmitter becomes idle and no power is lost.

Similarly, won't charging devices all the time cause the batteries to lose the ability to hold a charge?

As the WattUp solution is software controlled, users can determine how and when they receive a charge.

When will the first WattUp enabled appliances become available?

We are working with our current strategic partners to have demonstrable products at CES 2015 in January. We expect to be able to provide our partners the enabling technologies in time to meet 4th quarter 2015 shipments.

Are they likely to cost a lot more?

Ultimately, partners will determine pricing for their products. Our partners expect WattUp-enabled devices to be priced at attractive levels for consumers.

What countries will they be available in?

We expect it to become available globally.

What devices/models/manufacturers will support WattUp charging?

This is a question for our partners. Currently they are considering WattUp for a wide range of popular products, beginning with smartphone accessories and wearables.

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